Keoua 2012 Reflections

Aloha Kakou:

As the year comes to a close, we take this opportunity to wish all of our families, friends and supporters Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hau’oli Makahiki Hou. Mahalo Akua for all the blessings received throughout the year, for our health, for new friendships forged, and for the many experiences we’ve shared in and out of the canoes.

It was an exciting year for our club, with some outstanding highlights. First among these was the completion and blessing of our new wa’a koa, ‘Ale’ale’a, in March. This was truly a labor of love, designed and built by our very own kalaiwa’a, Kurtis Yamauchi, with the help and support of Jacques Wong, BJ Galieto, Wave Spofford, Dave Kermott,  and the many others who contributed in one way or another. It was truly a team effort resulting in a canoe we should all be proud of, named after ‘Ale’ale’a Heiau, where the Ka’ahumanu and Keoua stones lie, next to Hale o Keawe.

As a side note, all the work on the canoe was done with solar power, thanks to our photovoltaic system at the halau.

The blessing ceremony, performed by Kahu Kahekili Ursua and his halau hula, was filmed and we are working on a DVD with a photo history of the making of ‘Ale’ale’a.

Another highlight was our staging of our 31st Annual Macathon, implementing internet technology for registration and payment of entry fees, through the efforts of our webmaster, Chris Runnells. Our new website is undergoing changes and new features are being added to make it a source of information on Keoua’s history and outrigger canoeing. It seems like yesterday when we first held the Macathon at Barry’s Nut Farm (Wakefield Gardens) with 5 K, 10 K and ½ marathon races! Preparations are already underway for our 32nd Annual Macathon on Saturday, March 30, 2013.

In November last year, we launched the Honaunau Ola Mau Loa initiative to develop a Ho’oko Kuleana Kupa (strategic plan) for the stewardship of our ‘aina, in conjunction with several community groups and organizations. To celebrate this undertaking and with the sponsorship of Ka ‘Ohana o Honaunau, the Pasifika Foundation Hawaii, ‘Apono Hawai’i, and others, we hosted a free concert with Te Vaka, the world-famous South Pacific music fusion group.  The following day, Danny Kaniela Akaka was featured in a Talk Story with the kupuna and keiki at Honaunau.

Our many discussions over the past several years have led us to explore ways to preserve our environment for the ongoing practice of culture, the protection of our precious lands and ocean, and the development of culture-based local economies. To this end, we met with Ulalia Woodside, Land Legacy Resources Manager at Kamehameha Schools in March and expressed some of our ideas regarding resource management and land use planning for the Honaunau-Kealakekua area. We will continue this conversation in the coming year.

As the season began, we realized that transportation of our youth crews to Hilo regattas was an issue that needed immediate resolution because rental vans are expensive, require a credit card and advance reservations, and are a logistical nightmare for the drivers to pick up and return. Our projected yearly expense for van rental was almost $5,000. We considered buying our own van but were fortunate to partner with a local non-profit agency for the use of their van for a very reasonable fee. This has worked out quite well for us and saves us time, money and inconvenience.

This year was also our 26th Calvin Kelekolio long distance race in August. Ka ‘Ohana o Honaunau’s keiki, with Leinani Navas-Loa, were joined by Betty, Helen and the Kelekolio ‘ohana to open the day’s events with a ceremony and scattering of flowers at Pae’a in honor of Calvin. The races and ensuing pa’ina, music and awards were another example of Keoua’s teamwork at its best. Our women paddlers rose to the occasion as well, earning ‘Ale’ale’a’s first medal! Mahalo again to all for your hard work and dedication.

The final event of our season was the Queen Lili’uokalani Races during Labor Day weekend. Given the great number of people who come to our little bay for this race, we felt we needed to raise awareness as to the sacred nature of our waters and the need to honor and protect them. Ka ‘Ohana o Honaunau’s keiki stepped up again and welcomed all the paddlers and supporters with an ‘Aha Ho’omana at Pae’a. We also distributed a flyer to all the participating crews, giving them a brief history of the importance of the Honaunau/Kealakekua area. On the water, our crews hosted a number of paddlers from Washington DC, California, Oahu, and Aotearoa, extending our Aloha to paddlers from around the world.

So we bid farewell to 2012, remembering and honoring all those members and friends who have gone before us and made this possible, praying and reaching out to those in need of healing and understanding, welcoming a new year of opportunity and wonder.

– Keoua Board President Rafael Ramirez

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